You see me a woman on the street, brown silky legs
long curly hair,
in a sundress,
jeans, sweatshirt, doesn’t matter.
You don’t remember me. You don’t even
But i know you,
and I know what’s next.
You grab my arm.
You turn around and stare.
“Psss, whoa. ‘Ey shawty!”
“Damn, sexy you got fat ass.” “Leave me alone … !”
Where are you going? I see on the phone but,
can I interrupt you for a minute?”
“I’d fuck the shit out of that.” “Oh you don’t speak?!
Well. fuck you then!” “I’m sorry, Nana. Yea, I’m still here.”
Yesterday, I think you remembered me cuz,
called me ‘sister’ when I was wearing my daishiki.
But today you call me sexy and wait for me to respond
with a blush. You expect me to feel
honored by your recognition.
But “sexy” is not my name.
So then you ask,
“What’s your name?”
Like it matters.
After all, a body doesn’t need a name, does it?
“My name is Lucy, and it means light.”
“My name is Tari.
It means ‘history’ in Tigrigna. See, I was born in a time of war.
Eritrea was fighting for its independence.”
“My name is Jazmine. With a ‘z’ not an ‘s’.”
“My name is Kendel, and it means ‘ruler of the bright sun valley.'”
“My name is Malaika. It means messenger of God.”
“My name is Noella.
My mom named me to mark the Irish in me, she
He called me ‘the new wailer.’
(Dad) “Cuz you were born after Bob died.”
Where am I going?
Stayed up all night writing this paper, grading these exams.
So hard to grade exams
when you don’t believe in what grades
You don’t often omit.
Where am I going?
To a better place.
A place where I can walk down the street
Not to please you or to invite you,
but because I’m happy.
Just because I’m happy.
Silky brown legs, small breasts, hair down
my back, and heart beating to Zydeco,
and Cape Verdean beats, and a heart
beating Tirrenia Yemane Barya beats.
This response in my head is not what you come
to hear, and not what I care to share so,
I silently shake my head, walk by you half
smiling, half-polite half-enraged. You see neither.
You see a brown body.
Silky legs ignoring you
A bottle crashes and the damage is done.
But the brown body walks on, and I’m
in a better place,
leaving you behind.
The air whispers,
“This is your home too. I know your name. Walk on.”
So I do.